With limited resources in so many South African schools, I can empathise with fellow colleagues who do find it challenging to integrate technology into their classrooms. Even more-so is the challenge to use technology as part of lessons and content delivery and engagement.
I came across a fantastic post on the EmergingEdTech web site and I have selected a few of the options (shown below) which I think a lot of teachers could implement here. You would need computers with decent Internet access. The content below comes from the original article (see link at the bottom of the page). I have modified and adapted slightly.
1. Incorporate Student Input & Gather Feedback
- Quick, easy Polling Applications: PollDaddy and PollEverywhere are two of many applications that make it quick and easy to create simple polls that can let you gather feedback from students – determine if they are struggling with a topic, if they know the correct answers to questions you ask, and so on. They can often participate in these polls using a smartphone.
- Take it up a notch with Socrative: Socrative is a powerful free app that lets you go well beyond simple polls to more elaborate quizzes. Learn more here.
- Twitter: Twitter is a great way to gather input by creating an easy to use ‘backchannel’. This is great for students with smartphones (they will need the Twitter app and an account). Simply create a unique hashtag and have students post feedback to Twitter using that hashtag.
2. Gamify It
Leveraging gaming mechanics can make learning more fun is probably easier than you think. For example, any time you bring competition or levels of achievement to a classroom exercise, you’re gamifying your classroom. For example, in one recent assignment in my classroom, I had students search through an interactive computer history timeline for specific facts. The first student to correctly identify a fact (like “what was the first computer bug?”) that I had them seek out “won” for that question!
Here’s a variety of resources and ideas for using gaming in the classroom:
- 4 Ways To Bring Gamification of Education To Your Classroom
- 10 Specific Ideas To Gamify Your Classroom
- Check out these posts and resources for using Minecraft and World of Warcraft in the classroom.
Also check out South African teacher Dorian Love’s blog on education and gamification.
3. Let Students Create
There are so many fun free tools and apps available today that can let students create all kinds of awesome digital content. Below is diversified set of different article and resources that share different tools and ideas for students (and teachers) to create digital content – presentations, interactive digital posters, eBooks, videos, and more.
- 11 Awesome Mash Up Tools
- PowToon – a Powerful Free Tool for Creating Awesome Animated Presentations
- Unleashing Creativity with iBooks Author (Video) (note: this is specific to the Mac).
4. Get Interactive
Many teachers enjoy using interactive tools with their students. Here’s a few tools and ideas to consider.
- Online Interactive White Boards: Did you know that there are several good free interactive whiteboards available online? If you have a computer and a projector, you can make them work a lot like a “smart board”. Some of these applications even allow students to log on online and collaboratively edit content. Check out these 6 Online IWBs to explore this idea further.
- Bounceapp (bounceapp.com): You can review, notate, and share any web page with Bounceapp. Just paste a web page address into the “app” and it turns it into an interactive screenshot where students can jot ideas.
- Interactive apps that work with Smartphones: Many of the tools in this article work on smartphones!
- If you happen to have a physical white board in your classroom, get more out of it with these creative ideas.
Simulations can be a powerful addition to the classroom. Since they tend to be somewhat complicated, they are typically suited towards high school. Here are some examples of simulations being used in education:
- Economics: This site, Economic-Games.com, offers free online classroom games for teaching economics.
- Marketing: Have you ever wished you could give your Marketing students the chance to practice different e-marketing skills and techniques? Check out Simbound.
- Medical: Simulations have been a significant teaching and learning tool in the medical field for many years. Harvard Medical School has even created a web site focused on their use of Simulations.
- Business: Business Simulation Games are a great way to bring active, applied learning into Business courses.
6. Bring in a Guest or Two
With the power of video conferencing apps like Skype, Google Hangout, Facetime, and others, our ability to connect with people all across the world has never been better or less costly. Teachers have been using Skype and similar tools to being guest lecturers, experts, students, and others into the classroom for years. Nothing breaks up the monotony of “same old thing” like an enthusiastic subject matter expert from another county or a room full of students from another continent!
What about a live Skype chat with Mark Shuttleworth?